AP: Series Bahrain qualifying report

Menzel on Pole for Epic Battle The stage has been set for a spectacular 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship- decider with Team StarChase driver Christian Menzel taking Class A pole position for the first of Sunday's two races at the...

Menzel on Pole for Epic Battle

The stage has been set for a spectacular 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship- decider with Team StarChase driver Christian Menzel taking Class A pole position for the first of Sunday's two races at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The German edged one point closer to the coveted title by setting the fastest lap of the 30-minute session, but the times were so tight that top four were all within eight- tenths of a second.

Having travelled to the Middle East to make its debut there on the state-of-the-art Bahrain International Circuit, the series will see its latest champion crowned tomorrow, and a battle of epic proportions is on the cards.

Team Jebsen driver Darryl O'Young of Hong Kong, second in the current standings, will line-up alongside the Menzel on the grid. The two remaining Class A championship- contenders Christian Jones, who tops the leaderboard with a three-point lead from O'Young, and reigning champion GruppeM Racing's Tim Sugden, make up the second row.

The four will line up for the start of the first of two 17-lap races tomorrow separated by just seven points.

Points-leader Melvin Choo is on pole in the Class B category, while guest driver Michael Kim of Japan impressed, qualifying second fastest on his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia debut. Choo's arch on-track rival Tunku Hammam of Malaysia was third fastest in the category.

Menzel wasted no time in setting his best lap time of 1:25.4296 on his third lap out. Jones too got off to a quick start, setting his best lap early in the race. However, with ten minutes of the session remaining, he was relegated to third with when O'Young set his best lap.

In his first season of racing in Asia, Menzel said that pole position -- and the accompanying point -- was just the first part of executing his weekend's plans: "I'm very happy," he said. "Step one is pole position and the next target is to win both races. I have nothing to lose and it is a sure thing that I will fight very, very hard."

Though Jones was disappointed that he could not better his lap time in the second half of the session, he was still pleased to be starting within the top three.

"The session was good," said the current championship leader. "I set my time on my first set of tyres and then on the second set of tyres I was going quicker, but then I made a mistake. I am a bit disappointed because I know I could have improved my time. But I'm okay with third and I had to be in the top three. Fingers crossed as it's going to be very close, the top five are going to be very close."

Racing along the shorter 3.8-km track, the drivers said that tyre management would also be a key to winning the races.

"It's a 17-lap race, which is long and hard for tyre use," Menzel said. "You must be clever with the settings in that the tyres are able to perform over the last five laps."

All of the drivers believe that the competition in the season finale will be as tight as it has ever been. Choo said it was close and no one would know for sure until the season's final chequered flag, while O'Young predicted it will be a fantastic race and one that will reward the driver who makes the fewest mistakes.

Starting from fourth and currently fourth in the Drivers Classification, Sugden is anticipating an action-packed start. Said the Briton: "The top three are going to fight like mad, and maybe it's possible to pick up the pieces. A lot will happen at the first corner and if nothing else, I'll have the best seat to watch the fight."

As the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and the Bahrain International Circuit partnered for the very first time, Circuit Chairman Zayed Al Zayani shared his excitement at hosting the season finale: "It's where everything ended really for the season and we will always be remembered for the final race, where history was made and a champion was crowned," Mr. Al Zayani said. "We're very proud to be associated with that."

Supporting the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia are two of the most recognised names in international motorsport, Mobil1 and Michelin. Mobil and Porsche have been partners since 1996. Close co- operation in research and development has led to every new Porsche engine being filled with Mobil1 high-performance lubricant. Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers also have the advantage of racing on cutting-edge tyres supplied by series partner Michelin. The consistent performance and leading technology of Michelin tyres constantly improve the performance of many teams in international motorsport. The partnership between Michelin and the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia has emerged from a worldwide agreement signed between Porsche AG and the Michelin group.

-credit: pcc ap

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Sugden , Darryl O'Young , Christian Jones , Christian Menzel , Melvin Choo